Welcome back to I Saw The Beatles! This is part 2 of our exciting journey with uber Beatles fan and true Macca fan – Sue Weisenhaus.
Runtime = 51 minutes
Welcome back to I Saw The Beatles! This is part 2 of our exciting journey with uber Beatles fan and true Macca fan – Sue Weisenhaus.
Runtime = 51 minutes
Welcome back to episode 39 of I Saw The Beatles! This week’s very special guest is Sue Weisenhaus of California who saw the Beatles in 1965 at the Hollywood Bowl! And…she has seen Paul McCartney in concert 117 times!
Runtime – 1 hour
Part 2 of this interview will air this Wednesday…
(Book reviewed by Amy Hughes)
Historically speaking, crystallizing the behemoth known as The Who – band, music, movies – involves flying over their career (decades in the making) and analyzing the history and events that influenced not only their impact as a unit but the generation that gave them a voice to erupt volcanically, spewing forth high-volume lava that for many right now, has become hard black coal, dense and cold of meaning.
Author Peter Stanfield writes with academic-minded insight that A Band With Built-Hate: The Who From Pop Art To Punk (Reaktion Books, 2021) should be soaked up with as much history as possible, just in understanding the environment and history of their times (and before). He makes us – the reader – get inside the genesis of prepubescent swinging Britain, move around it, throw it far and attempt to retrieve it back, encapsulated in that era’s urgent pop sensibilities.
For purposes of this review, the book is not a straight-up bio nor is it an extended diatribe framing The Who as hooligans bent on disarming the norm of rock, trashing instruments and hotel rooms (thanks, Keith Moon). What Stanfield does with extensive historical detail is frame the band as overall antagonists, armed with the windmill angst and intelligence of Pete Townshend – who I generally regard as a genius beyond compare – to smash and break the mundane lives of post-war Britain into a compact unit that pushes boundaries unheard of in late 50s and early 60s England.
The band’s ‘built-in hate’ stems directly from a Townshend quote and not far from the kernel truth of The Who’s beginnings in London. The pop scene itself blew up around art, art that had an immediacy and therefore an intelligence that couldn’t be described adequately for the masses. As the band germinated in the early days, the ‘Mods’ that were The Who’s (known as The High Numbers) audience were a fixated young mass that didn’t idolize them onstage or off. Dancing, drinking, clothes-styling, and amphetamines galore kept the message on a speed course that figuratively had them exploding all comfort conventions.
With the advent of pop, the term barreled on through with a notorious edge. Among the writers to expound and define this new wave was critic Nik Cohn. From the initial heady days of reigning in what the sound of pop was (as Townshend relayed the noise as “jet planes, Morse Code, howling wind effects”), Cohn sent forth an undefined, pointed, yet beautiful agenda: first writing in ‘Queen’ then throughout The Who’s career in this reading, giving (or maybe not) Townshend a critical mouthpiece. Cohn was there to hear ‘Tommy’ and later ‘Quadrophenia’ and as an overall arc to this book, provides the blueprint for understanding how the operation of pop culture machines on, whether it made sense then and by way of Stanfield, where to accentuate the importance of all these ground-breaking events in Who history.
Cohn was a pop descriptor extraordinaire and his writings and quotations are sprinkled liberally throughout this book. While there was no preconceived notion as to what ‘pop’ was supposed to be, it’s avenues continually splintered, while Hendrix was setting fire to his guitar: was he upstaging Townshend or paying homage? When ‘The Who Sell Out’ (and just previous to that ‘A Quick One’), Cohn was questioning and embracing it’s humor. Yes, sometimes it was pretentious – who in their right mind wanted to listen to this ten-minute ‘mini opera’ with vocals that shouted ‘clang’ and ‘cello’ in places The Who couldn’t half afford – as the subject matter made light (and dark) notions of a young girl’s naïve awakenings to wanted (or unwanted) sexual advances?
Stanfield also has a great appreciation for the media and artwork that surrounded The Who – from the advert-styled ‘Sell Out’ (among the conceived jingles and spoken word fillers), while at the same time, pointing out the conservatism in alternate, bland sleeve artwork for the European market with point-on results. The former was all part of The Who’s DNA marketing and salesmanship (now handled by filmmakers turned managers/producers Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert). The band with hatred was in essence becoming ‘pop’ to be consumed – albeit via a juggernaut of feedback and screeching.
At first glance, these were the baby steps, the rudimentary blueprint for what The Who were to become because of their association with art, consumerism and as it began to unfold in the US and the UK in the late 60s, the rock press: Townshend became the expert in his own Who history, divulging pages and pages of onion-peeling and partial proposals on what pop music was, where he had been (art school auto-destruct), where it was going (read: Tommy 1968 interviews) and later, how were these approaching 30 years of age (the doomed living out their own ‘My Generation’) supposed to bring their gatherings along with them (and did it really matter to the audience anymore).
I know for certain that as a high-schooler that was raised on The Who, there was a complete embrace of songs, especially ‘Baba O’Riley’ for whom the faux hip cigarette-smoking, corduroy-wearing, hanging-outside-the-cafeteria-at-lunch crowd was so off point, so brought up on FM radio to it’s real meaning, that the entity of The Who presented in this academic-leaning dissertation will have zero impact akin to understanding of what Townshend & Co. are all (or were about). I know I missed it, somewhere in-between ‘The Kids Are Alright’ film and ‘It’s Hard.’
Another stop-gap moment if I may: punk rock. As addressed in this title, how has The Who aged these 40 years since the release of ‘Who Are You’ with the bull crap stance of Daltrey dropping the f-bomb amongst synthesizers or ‘Sister Disco’ or Townshend’s footstep backbeat in ‘Music Must Change?’ Townshend at the time thought it was all over with the second coming of The Sex Pistols and The Clash and punk. But punk was already there, simmering and bubbling. It was merely a label. Lydon & Co. did skewer the inflated senses of Britain at the time, but Townshend’s alcoholic-fueled pissy-ness while being talked up by the Pistols’ Steve Jones and Paul Cook only added gasoline to the pyre. The band’s volcanic eruption (best shown at the end of ‘The Kids Are Alright’s’ ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ – due to director Jeff Stein asking them to go out and perform an encore they didn’t want to do) pretty much summed up the end of The Who as we knew them. On the edge, yet high up on the precipice waiting to be pushed off.
While the death of Keith Moon effectively put to bed the essential meaning of their opposition, the push-back of their music and lives, ‘Built-In Hate’ can now address with minute clarity and put-right connections how it all started and for the others that followed in their tidal-wave wake, and for the lows and the highs of the cultural innovators that are collectively engraved as The Who.
I give this book 4 out of 4 beetles!
Welcome back to episode 38 of I Saw The Beatles! This week’s very special guest is Patti Gallo Stenman. Patti saw the Beatles play live three time: Twice in Philadelphia and once in NYC. She’s also the author of the book, Diary of a Beatlemaniac.
Runtime = 58 min.
Welcome back to Episode 37 of I Saw The Beatles! This week’s guest is Pearl Cawley. Pearl saw the Beatles play at Shea Stadium in 1965 and 1966…and at one time, had a close encounter with John and Paul!
Welcome back to episode 36 of I Saw The Beatles! This week’s very special guest if Marti Edwards of Arizona who saw the Fab Four play 3 times in Chicago and was a Beatles fan club president! And we’ll be sure to talk to her about her book 16 in ’64
Another fine review written by Amy Hughes…
Rock guitarists have the unenviable task of comparison, either as mass media idols or underrated geniuses who didn’t get peer recognition during their lifetime. A handful thankfully straddle both hemispheres and if needed, get that extra push by someone who will deep dive into their life & career and emerge with an appreciation that wasn’t there before.
Author (and fan) Paul Salley has brought forth the heart in Little Wing: The Jimmy McCulloch Story (Lotown Publishing, 2021). No one reading this blog should not know McCulloch’s time with Paul McCartney: he was Wings’ lead guitarist from 1974 to 1977 and contributed several defining moments to songs in that time period, most notably the soaring interludes and name-dropped solo in “Junior’s Farm” and the highlight breaks in the live version of “Maybe I’m Amazed” from ‘Wings Over America.’ However, what overshadows all his accomplishments was his sudden death in 1979 at age 26.
As a young child, McCulloch showed himself as a guitar prodigy that belied his stature, literally. Born in Scotland, he was a ‘wee lad’ and many remembrances of him from those much older (including brother Jack) are often laced with warm humor: that he could even hold a guitar are among the repeated stories from his youth.
Coming from a musical family, McCulloch began his vocation with Jack in the local band The Jaygars. Rising in popularity across the UK, they were astonished at the reception and attention that McCulloch (at age 11 in 1964) was receiving. He caught the ear of The Who’s Pete Townshend, which would prove fortuitous in a few short years.
Moving onto another band configuration (One In A Million), the McCulloch brothers were soon on the rise as recording artists with a move to London in 1967. After their band split in early 1968, Jimmy McCulloch the guitarist transformed into Jimmy McCulloch the guitarist with a Number 1 hit. Townshend brought together McCulloch, singer-drummer-songwriter Speedy Keen and pianist Andy Newman to form Thunderclap Newman. The Who’s guitarist wanted to foster a creative environment with musicians he found favor with (Keen had written “Armenia City In The Sky” for ‘The Who Sell Out’) and this quirky ensemble fit the bill. With Townshend as producer, the trio recorded a Keen original “Something In The Air.” The song was released in July 1969 and McCulloch became the youngest person (at 16) to top the UK charts.
While Thunderclap Newman wrestled with the notion of becoming a performing band (and eventually added Jack McCulloch on drums and Jim Avery on bass), the pressures of living up to the newly minted status of rock stars began to take its toll. A 1970 album did emerge (‘Hollywood Dream’), gigs on the road brought notice and television appearances helped elevate McCulloch’s presence, but his commitment to the group began to falter. A summer 1971 US tour with The Who would have brought them high recognition; instead, Thunderclap Newman quietly disbanded.
McCulloch was finding his feet within the world of UK rock, however his next big move – working and touring with John Mayall – had an enormous impact on his post as a guitarist. Within three days of a phone call, McCulloch was on stage in Germany playing the blues next to the legendary statesman, who remarked later that McCulloch “had a lot of potential as an individual stylist.”
A short-lived namesake group was a time-filler for McCulloch’s next spotlight gig: Stone The Crows. Having tragically lost guitarist Les Harvey in a freak on-stage electrocution, the band were seeking out a replacement. McCulloch came to an audition and impressed everyone, especially vocalist Maggie Bell. His debut in May 1972 and his work on their album-in-progress further showcased his ability to interpret a back catalog on tour (the band’s forte) and break out from the cage of ‘teen idol.’ His position ended in 1973… however there were better days ahead.
McCulloch’s tenure in Wings began with a serendipitous invite from McCartney to attend a recording session in Paris to work on solo tracks for Linda McCartney (which were released on her posthumous ‘Wide Prairie’). This friendly venture set off the chain of events that saw McCulloch work with the band on Mike McCartney’s 1974 release ‘McGear’ (now acknowledged as a ‘lost’ Wings album), which morphed into the new lineup that included drummer Geoff Britton, the McCartneys and Denny Laine.
The group relocated to Nashville in June of 1974 to begin rehearsals, find their chemistry and jell musically. While there was plenty of time to play and relax, McCulloch did catch some trouble with the law with a bit of arrogance that wasn’t appreciated by the local authorities. Although proving himself worthy of a callout in the hard rocking “Junior’s Farm,” the cracks were already showing. During a brief respite, McCulloch nearly left, tempted by an offer to join The James Gang. His reasoning (no official tour plans akin to a lifestyle he enjoyed) nearly spelled the end of his tenure with McCartney. However, when Linda McCartney stepped in (and the offer of a wage arose), McCulloch felt secure enough to stay aboard for the foreseeable future.
The public’s first viewing of the new line-up in November 1974 with the release of “Junior’s Farm/Sally G” and the ensuing sleeve photoshoot, (with McCulloch dressed as a gambler) garnered strong notices in the rock press. His addition to the group reinforced McCartney’s new direction: take this band seriously and by the way, we’re kicking ass as well. Unfortunately, by the time the group were setting up for the ‘Venus and Mars’ sessions, Britton was out.
His replacement – Joe English – slotted in on a recommendation from Wings’ horn player Tony Dorsey. With the group in formation, they alighted in New Orleans during Mardi Gras for the recordings at Sea Saint Studio. ‘Venus and Mars’ dropped in May 1975, shooting to the top of the charts in both the UK and US on the strength of “Listen To What The Man Said.” McCulloch’s contribution “Medicine Jar” (not autobiographical, but inspired but a close friend’s drug addiction) was a hard-rock number and his understated blues-tinged licks on the closing tracks “Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People” were highlights as was Wings’ reinterpretation of the theme to the popular UK series ‘Crossroads’ with McCulloch’s lone voice signing off: “That’s basically it.”
With a solid line-up in place, Wings started rehearsals in the summer, with the intention of hitting the road. The official launch of what would become ‘Wings Over The World’ started in September and met with fan and critical acclaim, including much McCulloch family love when the band hit his hometown of Glasgow, an indication that life was very good for ‘the boy down the road.’ The break over Christmastime and subsequent reconvening in January 1976 for the next album ‘At The Speed Of Sound,’ with McCulloch’s anti-drug composition ‘Wino Junko’ (with it’s ethereal almost wistful melody) wound its way into and around a concepted ‘showcase’ album for each member. The subsequent European dates came off without a hitch, but the US leg was delayed after McCulloch slipped in his Paris hotel bathroom and broke his hand.
The US audiences that experienced those gigs in 1976 saw a band on fire. However, as was the case with alot of what was going on in the rock world of the ‘70s, McCulloch seemed to have a hard time adjusting. To many, he was the whiz kid from Glasgow that had superstardom thrust upon him. Some close friends acknowledged he was a “complex soul” who had a quiet introverted side that juxtaposed with the stroppy Scotsman who’s drinking brought out a gregarious, immature personality. However the overall sentiment from those who had noticed his immense talent was akin to being a parent. As Pete Townshend said, “I was so proud of him.”
McCulloch’s time with Wings now appears to be pre-ordained to end as quickly as it started. While he never seemed comfortable with downtime, his orbit of musician-friends and family had him in gatherings such as White Line and sessions with Roger Daltrey. While there was rampant speculation he was on the outs with McCartney, the 1976 triple album ‘Wings Over America’ (which showcased McCulloch’s standout work on “Maybe I’m Amazed”) dovetailed into the next scheduled Wings project in February 1977. The recording of ‘London Town’ on boats in the Virgin Islands proved precarious at times and when the sessions moved back to the McCartney farm in Scotland in August, McCulloch’s (and English’s) tenure with Wings would soon be over.
The accounts vary from source to source on why and how the split came, but most agree that McCulloch was growing restless and felt that his position should be one of peer recognition and fair compensation. As there would be no touring in the foreseeable future (due to Linda McCartney’s pregnancy), McCulloch took this as note and while he played on several of the farm sessions (one of which resulted in “Mull of Kintyre”), he and English were not part of the ensuing promotion for ‘London Town’s’ release in March 1978. McCulloch had flown Wings.
He was not without a band for long. McCulloch joined the reunited Small Faces and with Steve Marriott, he slotted in beside the fiery guitarist/vocalist. Alongside drummer Kenney Jones, bassist Rick Wills and keyboardist Ian McLagan, they hopped onto gigs in September 1977 and cranked out ‘78 In The Shade.’ Yet with no real original contributions forthcoming, McCulloch once again bade farewell to a band setting.
Most of 1978 and 1979 saw McCulloch moving between projects he either contributed to (charity gigs, testing new guitar technology) or joining up with old colleagues in the hopes of moving on from the shadow of Wings. With The Dukes, that prospect seemed positive and after a spate of gigs in the summer and an album release, the fall of ‘79 was a time to look forward with a Dukes tour.
But that was not to be. McCulloch was found motionless in his London apartment by his brother Jack on September 27. He was 26 years old. Although he had been prescribed medications for various issues, the official cause of death was morphine poisoning. While Jack and close friends believe it was accidental, the circumstances up to and surrounding his death have and will remain a tragedy that can’t be fully explained.
For a large majority of this biography, Salley has remained focused on McCulloch’s brief, but enormous contributions as a guitarist, bandmate, friend and brother. He has included dozens of unseen photos, memorabilia, clippings, interviews, discography, gear gallery and tributes exclusive to this book and with the addition of editor/designer Mark Cunningham, they have put together a visual and tonal layout that elevates this above the run-of-the-mill term ‘self-published.’
For the hard work and details that show throughout and lovingly dedicated to ‘Jimmy Mac,’…
I give this biography 4 out 4 beetles.
Welcome back to episode 35 of I Saw The Beatles! Our very special guest today is Linda S. Reincke-Woods! She may not have seen the Beatles play live…but she saw the Beatles! Hold on to your hats…this is one crazy ride.
Welcome back to episode 34 of I Saw The Beatles! This week’s very special guest is MaryAnne Laffin who saw the Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1965 and 1966! I can’t wait to hear about the difference a year makes in the life of a Beatles fan!
If you or anyone you know saw the Beatles play live, whether in Liverpool, Hamburg or anywhere else in the world, and would like to tell your story, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org so we can put you on the air!
On May 18th, I was browsing through Facebook when I saw a post by Elaine Schock (wife of Mikael Gilmore and former publicist of Sinead O’Connor) with a link to a NY Times article about the upcoming release of Sinead O’Connor‘s autobiography – Rememberings. I immediately headed over to Amazon to pre-order a copy for it’s release on June 1st.
I’m guessing that most people have a pretty good idea of how the rise and fall of Sinead’s career occurred back in the early 1990’s, but to make it really, really brief for those that don’t know…she rose to international fame with the song “Nothing Compares 2 U” that was written by Prince…and then on an episode of Saturday Night Live in 1992, she tore up a photo of the Pope on live TV and her career crashed. Then to make matters even worse, it was reported that she refused to perform if the national anthem was played before any of her concerts in the U.S. She became a publicity nightmare!
So…that’s the story…that’s what I remember…and pretty much all I knew about Sinead for a couple decades. Just like everyone else in the word, I have always loved the song Nothing Compares 2 U, but never paid her any mind after she seem to fall off the face of the earth. That is until she showed up on social media in the early 2000s when I started following her…and what a ride that was! She was brutally honest and severely messed up…at one point asking her fans to find her a husband! And they did…and she married him in Las Vegas, but like everything else in her life that crashed. It wasn’t long before she was on social media pleading with her followers to get her help immediately…she was holed up in some motel in New Jersey and was suicidal. I lost track of her and her craziness after that…until now…
Sinead begins her story by letting her readers know that the book is written in two different voices. Of course, the first thing one thinks upon hearing this is…how many voices does she hear? Are these different people living inside her? She gives no really good explanation and the book begins as if it’s written by a child as she tells the story of her troubled upbringing in Dublin. The grammar police would have a field day with her over the way it’s written. Some of the stories are nothing short of bizarre and sickening as she tells of the abuse of her and her siblings at the hands of a mentally ill mother and an emotionally distant father. It’s nothing short of weird and it’s not something I could just speed read through. I had to put the book down and pick it up over several days.
The story continues through the beginning and height of her career and the eventually fall from grace after the SNL episode. Then Sinead takes a weird turn…she starts breaking down each of her albums and telling about the meanings behind each song. WAIT! What happened to how she ended up with four children? What about the husband she married in Las Vegas and the breakdown in the hotel in NJ? Is she really going to skip over all the CRAZY parts?!
Actually…no. And in a different voice from the rest of the book (that actually started with the stories behind the songs), Sinead starts getting brutally honest about adulthood, her children, and much of her time dealing with her mental health. It’s not a complete story…but what she does remember is as honest as can be. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!